If the Los Angeles Lakers are going to outperform (or even reach) the 30ish win projections many have them pegged for, they’re going to need substantial production from their young talent. Brandon Ingram will have to make a sophomore leap, Ivica Zubac will need to be ready to play back-up center full time, Julius Randle will need to show he’s a helpful NBA player rather than just an intriguing collection of tools, Larry Nance, Jr. will have to make figurative leaps in his game instead of literal leaps off of the ground and so on and so forth.
In order for young teams like the Lakers to show the type of growth detailed above, they need to be in the gym working on their game. That’s exactly the mindset the Lakers front office has been open about wanting their young core to take, and head coach Luke Walton made it sound like it’s working when speaking to Chris Palmer of Spectrum Sportsnet:
Luke Walton says 6 to10 Lakers have been working out daily. “Blasting music, lifting weights, 2-on-2. The atmosphere has been incredible.”— Chris Martin Palmer (@ChrisPalmerNBA) August 4, 2017
I don’t know exactly how typical this is across the NBA, but 6-10 players sounds pretty high in terms of turnout when we’re talking about completely voluntary workouts during the only real “off” period of the NBA offseason.
Now, there is a difference between coming in and just getting shots up and working on specific parts of a player’s game, but Brandon Ingram’s growth from the end of his rookie season to his debut in Las Vegas Summer League would suggest that the team is working smart and hard.
What types of results it will lead to are unknown, even to Walton:
Luke won't put a number on how many wins he expects. Has one but won't say. "But in 2-3 years we're going to be a really, really good team."— Chris Martin Palmer (@ChrisPalmerNBA) August 4, 2017
But those results aren’t the point this season, and Walton isn’t wrong to think the Lakers could be “really, really good” in a few years. That sentiment is especially true if his young players are building these types of habits to carry forward, which would give them a leg up in terms of development as they look to meet their sky-high potential over the next several seasons.
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here, or listen to our predictions for the season below), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.